There are simple ways to cope, some of which we do regularly but do not think about: dressing in ways that are comfortable and make us feel good, eating tasty and nourishing food, relaxing with a cup of tea, talking with friends, and sitting or walking in nature. Noticing what we do to cope increases its effectiveness just as appreciating what we have in life makes it feel even more precious. What have you done to cope today without thinking about it? Remember the little things as you review.
In order to cope effectively, we need many ways to cope so if one doesn’t work there are always more to choose from. We tend to use a few tried and true ways of coping and are not sure what to do when they fail. Adding new coping can help. What can you do to cope today that you don’t normally do? Ask around for ideas if you are not sure what to try. Keep trying until you find something new that works for you.
One way to measure stress is with the 0 to 10 scale, similar to a pain scale, with 0 meaning no stress and 10 when we are ready to blow. If this scale does not work for us, we can try measuring our stress by rating it as high/medium/low, pleasant/neutral/unpleasant, or red flag/green flag. We can play with this until we find a a way to measure that works for us. We measure our coping in the same way by checking our stress levels before and after we cope. How aware are you of your stress and coping? What would be a good way for you to measure them?
Good times to cope are when we know we will be in a stressful situation such as a meeting with our boss, a talk with our lover about how disconnected we have been, a medical test/procedure, or even a particularly busy day. We can cope before and/or after the event to ensure our stress stays the way we want it. Is there an even coming up that might stress you? What can you do to prepare?
One way we can check our need to cope is to check our stress level. Use a scale from 0 to 10 to rate your stress, remembering that in order to have 0 stress we would probably need to be dead. Its also important to note that some of us like a higher stress level than others. If we like to be at a 5, it is not an indication we need to cope but it does mean there is less time before we get to a 10 so awareness is important. When our stress number grows, we need to cope to lower it. What is your stress level? Is it where you want it to be or could you use some coping?
Its the good copers who thrive. Think about the people you know who do well in life. They know how to navigate life and get the support they need. Sometimes we feel its just luck, but chances are they do many things to take care of themselves, including asking for help, taking breaks when tired, telling their loved ones how they are feeling, going to their health care providers regularly, exercising, eating well, working hard, acknowledging their accomplishments, and having fun. Who do you know who does well in life? What can you learn from them about coping?
We get through life by coping. Its how we survive. Coping helps us adapt and we must adapt to survive. Unfortunately, some of what we do to cope is not helpful long term. Combat soldiers get in the habit of being on constant alert and look everywhere for enemies. This keeps them alive in combat but gets in the way when they come home. What are your natural ways of coping? Are any of them outdated?